Schismatics say canons don't apply to our times
Bishop John of Melbourne
Vicar President of the Synod
Dear in Christ ROCA Parishioners,
Last Sunday, on the 20th November, we managed to call a meeting to discuss ROCA diocesan affairs here in Australia. Participants of the meeting were Bishop Ambrose of Methone, Archbishop Andronik, Hegumen Andrei, and myself. Concerning the question, upon what canonical basis is Archbishop Andronik separating from the Synod of Metropolitan Agafangel, Fr. Andrew reiterated what he has written in his correspondence; that “the Church canons are not applicable for our times” and that we have to seek a “new way” to solve church problems.
On behalf of our Church, I have to inform you that this proposed path of action by Archbishop Andronik and those that follow him, is not Orthodox. The statement that “the canons cannot apply” contradicts Church Tradition, and the order of Church life as set down by the Church Fathers of the seven Ecumenical Church Councils.
Church life has never been without temptations. One only has to read the life of St. John Chrysostom, whose day it is today, to understand this. Temptations are not an excuse to reject the Church canons and tradition – rather the contrary!
I take this opportunity to also inform everyone about the decisions of the Council of Bishops under Metropolitan Agafangel, held in Ukraine 25 to 27 October 2016. Contrary to the rumours circulating, the Sobor did not “punish” Archbishop Andronik or Archbishop Sophrony. The Sobor of Bishops rather prefers to let them determine their own fate – a life in the Church, or a schism outside of the Church. It is now up to them to fulfil saintly Patriarch Tikhon’s “Decree №362 regarding the Higher Church Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, which obliges scattered groups of believers to create a unified management, instead of justifying, and multiplying schisms. As regards those who oppose the creation of a unified management, the Decree instructs to interrupt communion with such."
The Sobor of Bishops conciliarly resolved that should the group persist in their non-conciliar actions, and actually carry out the illegal so-called ‘all-diaspora sobor’ in January 2017, then its participants “will be defrocked (in the case of clergy) and banned from communion (in the case of lay people)."
In view of the dire consequences to those who join themselves to this group headed by Archbishop Andronik and Archbishop Sofrony, I offer to all those who are concerned about this matter to meet and discuss a viable future for our Church here in Melbourne. I propose having a friendly discussion between ourselves after the Divine Liturgy at the Church of Saint Gregory the Theologian, 4 Gilbert Grove, Bentleigh, on the 4 December 2016.
I understand that many of you have been hurt in the past in our local church life with various misunderstandings from all sides. I personally again apologise for any of my actions in the past that may have disturbed you. In view of the extreme seriousness of what is happening now, let us now all rise above personal misunderstandings, forgive one another and help one another restore peace. It is our duty as Orthodox faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to do what we can to maintain Her integrity and existence here in Australia.
I invite you all, and encourage you to share this letter with anyone interested. I may not have your current email addresses.
With love in Christ,
Bishop of Melbourne.